“My first reaction was sad. Then I was really angry and I had to do something”.
The something Helena Yurcho of Berwick, Pennsylvania had to do was initiate a campaign to drive a GoDaddy.com Superbowl ad off the air. The ad depicted a woman attempting to sell her puppy on-line. According to the website change.org 42,427 people signed her petition, causing GoDaddy.com to give in to pressure and pull the ad.
Some of the 42,427 who signed the petition elected to comment. One stated “it’s a disgusting ad. Too many unwanted animals die and it’s not right!”. Another, “animal cruelty is outrageous and this ad promotes it”. And another “…it’s a great commercial up until the point where she says she’s selling the dog online. I get it’s about the dramatic effect at the end – poking fun – but unfortunately, I can’t remove the stick from my butt on this one –- it’s just not a funny topic”.
Not a funny topic? It was a GoDaddy.com television ad. There were no depictions of “unwanted animals” dying or “animal cruelty”. It would have aired during the Superbowl and given the familiarity sports fans have with GoDaddy.com ads, a great many would have ignored it and instead made a trip to the fridge or bathroom while it aired. But for the armchair activist crowd this ad was worth a sense of through-the-roof hysteria and ultimately banning someone else’s free expression.
This is what the new brand of censorship looks like. Self-appointed arbiters of what is and is not acceptable speech need not rally a mob in the streets to loot local repositories of information and then burn them in the public square. One need only be sufficiently upset by what someone else has or hasn’t said, and then use a social media outlet to silence it. The offense trumps expression. This new censorship is an sneaky bugger. And a selective one too in shaping public discourse.
Take for instance the “Black Brunch” movement. Black Brunchers storm into places – most often restaraunts, although they did disrupt an awards ceremony in Portland, Oregon for 100 year old Navy veteran Dario Raschio – and instantly take to tweeting their “activism”. In their words they are there to “reclaim our humanity and right to unapologetically hold space in public”. One would think they could simply hold space in public by sitting down and ordering a cheeseburger like any other diner. That wouldn’t silence anyone though. It’s all about removing that which is deemed offensive. Among their “STAT” posts to social media was the Twitter post “ATTN WHITE Man, I have no guilt disturbing your brunch. Its (sic) YOU that has no right to be here.”
No right to be here? Tough words. Especially considering that Black Brunch to date exclusively operates in the most progressive of America’s progressive urban areas. It’s not by chance that they choose safe turf to “hold public space”. They require a sense of hysterics in order to energize their movement and gain allies in their quest to silence others.
There are dozens of other examples. On-line petitions to pay NFL Cheerleaders a “living wage” or to urge Gap to stop selling products made using real animal fur. And there is the concept of a “microaggression” in which individuals unknowingly offend other people.
Princeton freshman Newby Parton himself was victimized by microaggression. He reported being offended that other students found amusing his Tennessee-accented pronounciation of “Cool Whip”. Apparently he emphasized the “wh” in “whip”.
A true believer in the new censorship, Parton advised fellow students on Facebook ““I am afraid because microaggressions aren’t harmless — there’s research to show that they cause anxiety and binge drinking among the minority students who are targeted…send me a message if I have ever hurt your feelings. I will do what I can to make it up to you”. Cue the hysteria, have everyone tip toe on eggshells, and stand ready to fall on one’s own sword if even the hint of an offense occurs provided it’s the right kind of offense.
The censors that would take ban an ad from television, interrupt the awards ceremony for a World War II veteran, or embrace the idea of “microaggressions”, will never target their ideological soulmates. A quick Google search using the phrase “The Prophet” produces numerous news items in which “Muhammad” is preceded by “The Prophet” lest the Islamic world be offended.
Never will “Jesus Christ” be preceded by “Christian’s Lord and Savior” although it’s easy to find hit pieces critical of “Christianists” and not a single complaint about them. Daily Kos for example reports “A Christianist America is a frightening place indeed. Already, gay individuals are having their rights revoked. But that is just the beginning”.
“Just the beginning”. If it sounds like an omen it’s supposed to. The un-informed progressive is supposed to read that and be compelled into action fearing what “the Christianists” might do. That’s how democracy works. And while the left no doubt cheers the notion of “democracy” it’s worth remembering that of all forms of government, democracy is among the worst.
Democracy is five wolves and three chickens voting on dinner after being whipped into a frenzy and rendered terrified that starvation is imminent. A sense of crisis fuels hysteria. A crisis Rahm Emmanuel once said couldn’t go to waste, “it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”. Things like banning free expression from the public square and narrowing minds engaged in discourse.